Whether you are a health nut or an eco-warrior, chances are you have heard about the incredible and versatile benefits of both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar.
I’m sure you’ll agree if you have tried cleaning with white vinegar you know how well it works as a cheap, non-toxic alternative to chemical household products.
And apple cider vinegar has been used in folk remedies and beauty hacks for absolute ages.
But what are the Difference Between White Vinegar And Apple Cider Vinegar? And can you substitute one for the other?
I am going to give you 13 tips on how to use apple cider vinegar. From treating skin complaints to aiding weight loss to improve blood sugar levels and treating fungal infections, apple cider vinegar is a natural, healthy, affordable remedy.
And then I’ll leave a few ideas on cleaning with white vinegar.
Question: What is it that makes vinegar useful or beneficial?
Answer: Acetic Acid
What is acetic acid and how does it work?
Both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar contain acetic acid (1). And acetic acid is actually good for your health! We hear so much about the acid/alkaline balance needed for "optimal health", but it can get confusing. We tend to think of acid as bad and alkaline as good. Not 100% accurate.
Time to change your thinking.
Natural acids help the body to create "alkaline environments" in the body.
Think about it for a minute.
From citrus fruits, we get ascorbic and citric acid. We are told to make sure we take in essential fatty acids, to regenerate and repair cell structures. And of course don’t forget amino acids, the catalysts and building blocks(2) of the body.
But back to vinegar. Is all vinegar healthy? Can you use any vinegar for the same purposes? What are the differences between white vinegar and apple cider vinegar?
Various Vinegar Varieties
The definition of vinegar is “a sour-tasting liquid" in an impure, dilute acetic acid.
But not all vinegar is created equal! (3)The process that leads to vinegar is one of fermentation. Acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter) feed off the ethanol produced by the breakdown of sugars during fermentation, resulting in acetic acid.
This acetic acid is not the vinegar it is just the main constituent of vinegar, along with water. It is the type of fruit used that determines the nutritional value and the distinct flavour of each kind of vinegar.
In Asia coconut is often used. Grapes, apples and sugar cane are also ubiquitous vinegar ingredients. Malt vinegar is made from barley. Fruit vinegar is becoming popular, and these will produce vinegar with a slightly different nutritional profile.
Traditionally vinegar was fermented slowly and this produced vinegar that contained a mother culture. It was then aged in wooden barrels. The wood of the barrels also added to that specific vinegar’s flavour.
Nowadays we get commercially produced vinegar that is distilled, and in some countries, this will be labelled non-brewed. The methods used are much faster thus creating bottles of vinegar that are still full of acetic acid but devoid of any notable nutritional value.
NOTE: It is important to note that white distilled vinegar can be used much like apple cider vinegar, but always dilute with water. The other white vinegar, the “spirit” vinegar, is much stronger and, even diluted, is better left for household cleaning.
What are the nutritional differences between Apple Cider vinegar and White spirit vinegar?
Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is available, and these will contain nutrients like potassium and sometimes B vitamins. Calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium will also be present (4).
The percentage of acetic acid should never be higher than 5% if using in the kitchen as a dressing or taking internally for medicinal purposes.
White spirit vinegar has virtually no nutritional value, but because of the acetic acid, it still has benefits like lowering blood sugar levels and aiding digestion. It will always have concentrations of acetic acid between 5 and 20%.
Can we substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar and vice versa?
White spirit or distilled vinegar is ideal for household cleaning, pickling condiments and preserving meat. White spirit vinegar is stronger than white distilled vinegar and has a higher acetic acid level. This makes it ideal for a low cost, a non toxic cleaning agent.
Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for white vinegar in an emergency but not on a regular basis. This is because the acidity in apple cider vinegar is lower so it will be less efficient in both its cleaning power and when used to pickle or preserve food (5, 6).
It is also okay to add white vinegar to a salad dressing instead of using apple cider vinegar, but it is better to use a dash of vinegar with a lower acetic acid level. So here apple cider is better. And healthier!
So yes you can substitute but only in emergencies and not on a regular basis.
Why? Because too much acetic acid will create leaching of vital nutrients from the body and you could end up with conditions like osteoporosis due to extreme potassium deficiency.
Keep the white spirit vinegar for cleaning. If you pickle instead use a brown spirit or distilled version instead of the white.
Apple cider vinegar is a better option to take internally. Choose organic, raw options like this one to get the most health benefits out of it.
Apple Cider Vinegar vs. White Vinegar
Apple Cider vinegar (ACV) is always the better option here. Apple cider vinegar contains antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and pH balancing properties (7).
- Face: Dilute 1 part ACV to 10 parts water. Apply with cotton wool as a toner. The acetic acid restores pH levels, tightens pores and stimulates circulation.
- Feet: To deodorise and soothe tired, smelly feet, Dilute 1 part ACV to 4 parts water. Soak feet in the basin of a solution, the ACV will kill bacteria (8) and fungus, resulting in fresh smelling, healthy feet – free from fungal infections like athlete’s foot.
- Body: Add 1 cup of ACV to a bath and soak away your stresses. The acetic acid restores pH balance to the skin.
- Bruises: Soak undiluted ACV in cotton wool and apply to bruise for an hour. Swelling will be reduced, and improved circulation means bruising will disappear faster.
- Sunburn: Mix 1 part ACV to 10 parts water and apply to affected areas with a washcloth, alternatively soak entire body in a bath, using 1 cup ACV.
- Mosquito bites: Dip cotton wool into undiluted ACV and apply to bites. Itching will be reduced as will swelling.
- Hair treatments: Mix 1 part ACV to 1 part water. Massage into scalp to prevent dandruff build up. It will restore the pH of the scalp, thus forming a protective acid mantle that will protect from over oily conditions as well as dandruff build up.
Apple cider vinegar for Weight Loss:
Apple cider vinegar is disinfecting and detoxifying. Taken internally it reduces inflammation from within. It restores pH levels in the body and aids digestion.
These actions improve circulation and stimulate the body to remove toxins and digest fats. It also benefits the stomach and intestines, by destroying harmful bacteria in the gut (9).
It stabilises blood sugar levels, which in turn leaves us feeling more energised for longer and satiates the appetite, curbing cravings and aiding people on weight loss programs.
All these factors work together to aid weight loss (10). By improving digestion, gut flora and circulation the body’s metabolism will improve, and an efficient metabolism is a key to weight loss.
By reducing inflammatory conditions as well as restoring pH levels, the body’s immune system can work faster to boost immunity, protecting the body from fungal and bacterial infections.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Detoxing:
Weight loss occurs when the body is brought into a clean state. The acetic acid in ACV not only cleans the skin on the outside but also cleanses the internal organs, removing harmful fatty acids and the toxic buildup that causes a sluggish metabolism.
A healthy gut is the first step to a healthy you, and the antibacterial action of ACV will remove waste from intestines and stomach. Restored acid/base levels mean joint pain decreases as well as inflammation. This improves circulation which improves the liver’s ability to process and redistribute nutrients around the body and remove the waste efficiently.
- A Synergistic Effect on Entire Body: As you can see from the info above the effects of ACV on health is holistic.
Because of these properties, ACV may also -
Lower Blood Sugar Levels: This may improve insulin sensitivity and therefore be beneficial in preventing diabetes (11).
Lower Cholesterol: Improving cardiovascular health and preventing cardiovascular disease and its precursor, atherosclerosis (12).
Lowers Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is very dangerous, putting undue strain on the heart and therefore the entire body. A normal blood pressure indicates a healthy body.
Candida: Candida is a fungal disease that is the result of an overproduction of yeast in the body due to inadequate diet. Once candida starts to grow, it thrives in moist conditions and feeds on sugar. Cutting out sugar is always a right place to start. This will slow down the growth rate of a candida infection.
Candida can appear in the gut and if left untreated can develop into candidiasis, which leads to multiple arrays of symptoms, from tiredness and headaches too much more severe symptoms.
Taking 2 – 3 tablespoons of ACV, neat or mixed with water, on a daily basis can restore the pH in the stomach as well as killing off fungal infections, like candida.
And what about white vinegar for cleaning?
Versatile Vinegar Household Hacks
White vinegar diluted with water is a fantastic, non-toxic general household cleaner. Often it is used with baking soda, it froths up and fizzes, great for cleaning toilets, tiled surfaces, kitchen sinks and windows.
• Use it to kill black mould by applying with a spray bottle, diluted with water.
• Spray clothing for wrinkle-free fabric.
• Add to cut flowers to keep them fresher for longer.
• Remove stains from pots and pans.
Apple Cider vinegar in an organic, raw, unfiltered form is a health product for your inner and outer body.
White spirit vinegar is best used for cleaning.